"Mark is a really hard worker," Williams said. "He's the dog handler/canine officer and that puts a lot of added responsibility on him, taking care of the dog and answering calls. Sometimes, he gets off his shift and goes home and gets called right back out if somebody needs him.
"He's just been dependable and he's been an excellent dog handler. After going down all the officers, and the pros and cons, we decided on Mark as 'Officer of the Year, 2012.' I think he's well-deserving and we were proud to do that for him."
Graduating from Kennett High School in 1997, Dennis began his career in law enforcement that same afternoon with the Clay County Sheriff's Department serving as a jailer and Communications Officer. He served in that capacity for two years before going to work at the Dunklin County Sheriff's Department as a Communications Officer where he served for six years. While Dennis was working for the Sheriff's Department, he began working part-time with the City of Kennett as a Communications Officer until he accepted the position of full-time Communications Officer in October of 2003.
From September of 2006 through May of 2007, Dennis attended Southeast Missouri State University Law Enforcement Academy in Cape Girardeau, Mo., graduating with a Class A Peace Officer Certification.
"Two days after graduating the academy, I was promoted to a Patrolman with the City of Kennett and have been here working the streets since," he said.
It was in April of 2010 when he began his assignment as the Canine Handler after his certification with Canine Unlimited Inc., in Tulsa, Okla. In the year 2011, Dennis was promoted to the rank of Patrolman First Class.
When asked how he became interested in law enforcement, he said, "I believe my interest in law enforcement was instilled in me before birth. My father and both brothers were/are officers and that is all I grew up around and pretty much all I've ever known."
Dennis's father is the late Charles "Charlie" Dennis, a Kennett Police Officer until he was forced to retire due to illness in the late 1970's. His brothers are Randy Dennis ,who is retired from the Piggott, Ark., Police Department, and Johnny Dennis, who is currently working for the City of Kennett Police Department. His mother, Melba Wallace Dennis worked at the Palace Cafe until it closed for business.
"The most memorable moment for me thus far while at the Kennett Police Department was the night when I received my father's badge number (921) which was retired in his honor when he was forced to retire due to his illness. At that same meeting, I had the honor of giving up my first badge number (928) so it could be retired in the honor of Lieutenant Gordon "Flash" Crawford when he was forced to retire due to illness," he said.
Dennis also shared his thoughts concerning those wishing to enter the field of law enforcement.
"First and foremost, be 150 percent positive that it is what you want to do. Participate in "Ride-a-long" programs with various departments that allow the ride-a-longs. And last but not least, don't try doing it for the money. If I had it to do again, I would most definitely choose not only law enforcement as my profession but also the City of Kennett. It has been a lifelong dream to get to where I am today," he said, adding, "It is a very underpaid and thankless job, however, at the end of the day, if you do the job and do it right no matter of the pay, you still go home knowing that you have made a difference in the world no matter how small it may seem to others."
Dennis has been married to Crystal Belote Dennis of Piggot since August of 2005 and together they have three children, Wesley Buchanan, 11 years-old, Hunter, "Charlie" Dennis, seven years-old, and Bodie Dennis, five years-old.